Footprints E.A.R.T.H. is an Ahmedabad-based firm, led and driven by Ar. Yatin Pandya and his subtle, natural, sustainable, and context-centric design philosophies. A believer in addressing environmental issues and taking notes from vernacular and local architecture, the firm has accomplished building a reputation of being sustainable and earthy. Right from planning to material selection, their designs are context and user-oriented, while being sustainable and influenced by Indian traditions in architecture.
The Design Philosophy as taken from the Website reads-
“Holistic architecture is experientially engaging, environmentally sustaining, socio-culturally responsive and most importantly contextually appropriate. Context in terms of culture, climate and construction. In the context of India history is alive through lived in traditions. We are lucky to find repository of traditional wisdom through its deep long passage of time. We endeavor to create contextually relevant contemporary resolutions that inspire from the rich Indian traditions and yet aspire for its future dreams.”
Let us take a look at 15 exemplary projects by the firm that can spring great ideas and inspirations in all of us!
1. Manavsadhana Activity Centre.
When a Visionary NGO with a need to address the issue of educating slum children met with Footprints E.A.R.T.H., Manavsadhana Activity Centre was conceived. Completed in the year 2009, the project intended to create an activity center in the heart of a squatter settlement that would envision to employ children as they are learning.
The building material used are made locally from recycled domestic and municipal wastes. This considerably reduces the environmental pollution caused thereof. To dissolve the problem of providing care and attention to slum children when both the parents are employed, a Crèche was developed in the adjacent land.
2. Environmental Sanitation Institute, Sughad.
Is an institute aimed at making users look at sanitation with a new perspective that is through participatory learning process rather than the instructive learning process. The project, nestled in the rural Taluk of Sughad in Gandhinagar, uses the program, site’s physical context, the ideology of design and demonstration of environmental balance into achieving a single design scheme.
Yatin Pandya is famous for exploring Kinesthetics in his projects and research alike. In this particular project, he uses the idea of the narrative aspect of spatial experience where the user is presented with the choices of exploration. The spaces encompass library, resource center, computer rooms, academic areas, residential spaces for both staff and students etc.
Is an ongoing project by the firm that began in 2012 and sits in the Bhat Village of Gujarat. The project is a highly symbolic one, and leaves the user to decode the messages laid out spatially. Manifested in the memory of Shri Indravadan Modi, Father of Indian Pharmaceutics, the memorial tries to comprehend the traditional ethics of spiritual philosophy into a contemporary manifestation.
To symbolize his living age of 87 years, 87 obelisks are created defining a circumlocutory path. The point of cremation termed as a Bindu, is manifested into a kund and the project originates from there. This point is further intersected by the four cardinal axes shaped into pathways where 87 inspiring years of his life are traced by engraved milestones.
4. Sanitation Park
An urban park set out in the deemed CGO complex in Delhi aims to change the notion about toilets and sanitation from ugly and obscured into a more undefended place.
As an initiative under the Swachh Bharat Mission the park displays various life scale installations of unconventional toilets with a non-centralized waterborne sewage disposal structure.
The aim of the project is also to create an ambience with the use of sanitation elements as furniture to foster an environment for seminars and get-together for talks and film showing on social concerns. This in turn is an attempt to talk about sanitation in public and to try and break the shame associated with it.
5. The Harmony Hills
Located in the Panchayat village of Bicchiwara of Rajasthan, the Harmony Hills is an anticipated housing venture. The longitudinal site provided challenges with the contours giving rise to mounds and valleys from center to sides.
The scheme is intended as a civic settlement with the dichotomy of built-unbuilt spatial suggestions and overabundance taking turns in defining the spaces. Considering the contours as a design strategy, it is expressed spatially by incorporating various levels and picturesque water features.
On 26th January 2001, Gujarat was hit with a shattering earthquake measuring 6.9 at Richter scale which put millions homeless and more than 20,000 persons dead. Kutchchh was the region to suffer the most. The dwellings there showcase resilience through their handicrafts and skills. They take the form of rounded adobe structures with a tapering thatch rooftop that is ornately embroidered with clay and mirror work.
A culture so beautifully ingrained with the landscape required a developments that could only prolong and celebrate this traditional connect of sustenance and not disturb it.
7. Gandhi Gyan Parab
Gandhi Gyan Parab is a project aimed at helping humankind by discovering self, nature and each other while involving in positive efforts. It sits under the old Ashram water tank adjacent to the Heart Centre in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. The project faced its completion in 2016.
It works as an experimental lab serving to connect various other international societies that are investigating new methods to help humanity. This very place in the Nineteen Fifties used to house a Flour Mill and a water tank that would serve water to the residents of the Ashram.
8. Global Mission School
Global mission school is one such project by the firm, where there has been a very keen effort to merge the built with the unbuilt. This is done with the interplay of courtyards into the periphery of the campus where nature is interspersed into the built. Located in Ahmedabad, and finished in the year 2012, the campus is a wonderful example of an institution’s ethos manifested spatially.
Conceived as an edifice where learning as a process is supposed to nurture both the student as well as the teacher, the design follows the five basic elements of nature. The campus design also encourages mutual interactions and exposure through visual connections.
9. Somnath Chhatralay – Ptc Girl’s Hostel
This project is an endeavor at Heritage Conservation and Adaptive Re-use by the firm. What happened to be an ashram was redeveloped into a Girl’s hostel in the year 2014.
The restoration design aimed at building the underlying values of the ashram to help cater to their goal of societal services. Additional activities like vocational and personal development training are also quartered into the building.
Located in the fringes of Ahmedabad is this recreational and amusement park which came into being in the year of 2014. Spawnasrushti offers water amusement rides, Nature Park, flora and fauna alongside vernacular and modern dwelling experiences. Following the contours of the site, i.e. the ridge and valley occurrences, the different experiences are inserted and thus is conceived this amenity that rightfully mélanges with nature.
One can blissfully enjoy the various dwelling experiences offered which are namely the Kutchhi Bhunga houses, tent houses and truck houses. To add to the desert-like experience many other elements like the crossroad (chowk), pigeon tower (chabutra), wells, courtyards (aangans) are affixed.
11. Gandhinagar School
Located in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, this project is envisioned from the philosophy of holistic learning that is believed to foster natural growth and stimulate young minds.
The design of the project takes cue from nature to create a pedagogical space, one that provides many courtyards to suit the local climatic conditions of the site. To create an environment where one feels familiar and comfortable as in one’s home, many design elements like overlooking corridors, interactive intermediate spaces, terraces and ample natural infill are incorporated onto the design.
Nestled in Ahmedabad is one of the two of Le Corbusier’s civic structures that have been accomplished. The original structure was commissioned on request by the then late mayor, Chinnubai Seth. Recently in the year of 2013, Footprints E.A.R.T.H. took on the project to restore the 50 year old building.
The scope of the firm was focused on structural repairs in the existing building, restoring the R.C.C, toilet blocks, and water body, adding the exhibition, repairing the existing kite museum just to name a few.
13. Shukla Villa
A private residence built in Ahmedabad called as Shukla Villa is an abode built and famous for its climate responsive features. As it is housed in a Hot and dry type of climate it was important to make use of the right building material, water and vegetation to favour the microclimatic conditions.
And the villa does just that! Apart from the use of the above mentioned elements, the zoning of the interior spaces are created in tune with the diurnal temperature variations. This means that the south-west section of the villa is used for night time while the north-east section is used for daytime and living activities.
Evosys is one of the interior design ventures by the firm. Completed in the year 2012, the project was to board interactive and eco-friendly interiors into the corporate office of Evolutionary Systems Pvt. Ltd.
The firm has tried to beautifully piece together different elements of the local culture for example by use of the traditional Jaali from Sidi Siyad’s mosque, local art and narrative art in warli tradition. The users are offered with choice of work stations, where to break the tedium of a regular office spaces, the stations are stretched out sporadically.
The Footprints E.A.R.T.H. website’s description of the project – “Shahjehan – a home for the Shah family in Vadodara is alchemy of paradoxical demands of places and people, climate and construction, utility and legislation, user and designer resolving to unique solutions.”
Built out of reinforced concrete construction and brick masonry, the main aim was to juncture two structures into one home. With the staggering of the two structures, common spaces like the living spaces, verandah etc. are accommodated as merging entities to link the two units together.